A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in South Carolina

South Carolina massage therapists are licensed by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, in conjunction with the South Carolina Massage/Bodywork Therapy Panel. Individuals are licensed on the basis of massage therapy education and examination. Additionally, candidates must be at least eighteen and in possession of high school diplomas or GEDs.

Licensure and practice is governed by the Massage Therapy Practice Act. The state of South Carolina reserves the right to ask applicants or licensees to submit to drug tests or other physical or mental assessments if there is ‘reasonable grounds’ for the request (http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t40c030.php).

Select a South Carolina Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Education Requirements for Massage Therapists

Prospective massage therapists must study at approved massage/ bodywork schools (http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t40c030.php). ‘Approved school’ is defined as meaning that the program meets education and training requirements. The program must include 500 hours of classroom study.

Examination Requirements

South Carolina massage therapists are licensed by examination. The Massage Therapy Practice Act cites three approved examinations: the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM). However, only one of these examinations, the MBLEx, is currently available to new massage therapists. South Carolina application materials note that after November 1, 2014, the ‘National Certification Examination’ would not be offered.

The MBLEx is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). There is a $195 fee. Candidates apply directly to the FSMTB; they can expect their applications to be processed in a week’s time. Once approved, the candidate will schedule through Pearson VUE. Examinations are now computer-adapted. They are available on an ongoing basis at sites around the nation. Examinees do need to schedule in advance; the Authorization to Test (ATT) grants a 90 day eligibility window.

The examination covers anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, massage and bodywork overview, benefits, pathology, ethical and legal issues, professional practice standards, and assessment and treatment planning. The FSMTB has made candidate bulletins available in PDF format; candidates can also request printed versions (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=58). They are expected to read the bulletin before making application.

The Panel provided a fact sheet about the MBLEx soon after its adoption. While the sheet is still accessible from the website, some information is not current. The information was written when only a few states had adopted the MBLEX; now the examination is accepted in more than 40 U.S. jurisdictions (https://www.fsmtb.org/content/?id=59).

The Massage Therapy Practice Act allows for other examinations to be approved by the Panel.

The Application Process

Individuals apply after meeting all requirements, including examination. Applications materials are available for download from the website of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=pub.htm). Prospective massage therapists also have the option of applying online. However, some supplemental materials will be required. The downloadable ‘Online Application Forms’ packet includes printable documents.

There is an affidavit that requires notarization. Online applicants have the option of uploading it or mailing it to the following address:

SC Massage/Bodywork Panel
PO BOX 11329
Columbia, SC 29211

The applicant will need to affix a recent passport-type photograph to one of the supplemental application pages; again, the completed page may be uploaded or mailed.

The ‘affidavit of eligibility’ also requires notarization. The purpose of the document is to establish citizenship or other lawful status. Applicants who are not citizens of the United States will be required to provide copies of immigration documents. Among the accepted documents are permanent resident cards, unexpired refugee travel documents, and I-20 certificates of eligibility (student status). A complete list is found in the application materials.

Massage therapy transcripts can be sent directly from the issuing institution or mailed by the applicant; they must be in their original sealed envelopes.

The FSMTB typically provides electronic verification to one state board selected by the applicant. The application materials, however, direct the individual to include a copy of the qualifying score report.

There is a $50 application fee and $100 licensing fee (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=fees.htm).

Application status can be monitored online (https://eservice.llr.sc.gov/SecurePortal/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fSecurePortal%2fIndex.aspx&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1).

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

Massage therapists who are licensed in other states can be licensed by reciprocity if the other jurisdiction has requirements that are at least on a par with those of South Carolina. The licensing agency notes that review would be required if the massage therapist had taken a state examination as opposed to an examination that had been approved in South Carolina; the Panel would need to see the examination or examination outline (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=faq.htm).

A candidate for license by reciprocity must submit a certificate from the Board or Department in the other jurisdiction (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=MASREC.HTM). Applicants are asked to also include a copy of the license with the application materials.

Former South Carolina Massage Therapists

Individuals who have held South Carolina licenses but allowed them to expire may be eligible for reinstatement. They will need to complete a continuing education requirement. A reinstatement application form is available on the Department website (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=pub.htm). There is a $210 fee.

Additional Information

Information on massage therapy licensure is available from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp). Massage therapists should be aware that there are periodic changes. Text of the Massage Therapy Act and Panel Regulations is available online (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/MassageTherapy/index.asp?file=laws.htm); there were some revisions to the Act in 2013.

The licensing agency can be reached by telephone at (803) 896-4588 or by email at 'BoardInfo at llr.sc.gov'.

The South Carolina Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is the state’s professional organization (http://www.amta-sc.org). AMTA-SC is not involved with the licensing process, but serves as an additional professional resource.